One week from today will be the mid-term elections. Thirty-six Senate seats will be up for election as will all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Thirty-six states will be electing governors in this election as well. In addition, there are numerous mayors and other local politicians running for office.
The mid-term election is always an important one and especially when it comes in the sixth year of a presidency. It is always a referendum on the President's policies even though the President is not on the ballot. Many Republicans have been quick to point out that a number of Democrats have asked the President to not campaign for them as they are trying to distance themselves from his policies.
As a pastor for twenty years I consistently urged my congregation to be involved in the political process. At a minimum, I encouraged them to vote for the candidates who best represented their values and whose policies seemed to be best for the nation. That meant they needed to be informed voters who understood what the candidates stood for. It is quite frightening to watch some "on-the-street" interviews of persons who plan to vote and realize they have not a clue what the issues are or the values of the individuals they are planning to support.
I avoided partisan politics, not because I don't have strong views on many of the issues facing this nation, but because as a pastor I did not feel it was appropriate for me to publicly support candidates. My own father ran for a local office one year, and I even refused to allow him to put a sign in my yard for that very reason. I voted for him and privately supported him, but in my public statements I try very hard to avoid being partisan towards an individual or a party.
This election will be important to our nation and to the Christian community. I'm certain you've read about the lawsuit in Houston that would require several local pastors to turn over their sermons and other correspondence that addressed the Equal Rights law passed in that city. That is only one example of government interfering with the freedoms our Constitution provides for persons of faith. How did our nation, founded as it was on Christian principles and values, get to this stage? Speaking just from a political perspective, it is because we have failed to elect men and women to office who would uphold those rights. (There is much that could also be said about the spiritual climate in the church that may be even more to blame, but that is the subject of another post on another day.)
For years I have heard that many politicians do not care about the opinion of Christians because so many Christians do not vote. Certainly, when they need our support they court the favor of Christian leaders, but once they get the support they need for a particular issue they toss us aside like yesterday's newspaper. That will not change until Christians recognize they have a duty to vote and support godly people for political office. Many today are trying to silence our voice in the public square, but we have a voice and it's time that voice is heard regarding the issues that matter most.
If you are a pastor I encourage you to urge your people to vote in this election. Let their voices be heard at the ballot box. Challenge them to be informed of the issues that matter most to them and to know how each candidate stands on those issues. Remind them that words are cheap at election time, and the only true way to know what a candidate believes is how they have responded to those issues in the past. There are godly men and women in both political parties running for office at every level of government, and these are the persons who deserve the opportunity to serve their nation and community in the offices they seek.